On July 13, Administrative Law Judge Kristin Miller heard five hours of closing argument in the challenge by the Altamaha Riverkeeper, Surfrider Foundation, and One Hundred Miles to Sea Island Acquisition’s proposal to build a 350-foot T-head groin on Sea Island. The proposal includes a beach nourishment project.
GreenLaw attorney Steve Caley made the closing argument on behalf of the Petitioners whose experts testified at a week-long trial that the proposed T-head groin:
1.would unreasonably interfere with Sea Turtle conservation efforts by inhibiting efforts of adult females to reach the beach to lay their eggs and by adversely affecting the ability of hatchlings to safely reach the sea as the groin and its 120-foot T-head would ensnare the hatchlings and provide fertile ground for predators to catch and eat them.
2.interfere with the sand-sharing system by accelerating the 300 feet of downdrift erosion to the Sea Island Spit that has already occurred in just 15 years since the current groins were installed;
3.would be contrary to the Shore Protection Act which expresses a strong preference for beach nourishment without groins and specifically provides that groins are prohibited when a reasonable or viable alternative such as beach nourishment is available.
As summarized in the closing argument, Petitioner’s experts at trial presented unrebutted testimony regarding the adverse effects groins cause to sea turtles and that beach nourishment without a groins is both reasonable and viable given that in the last 10 years 134 out of 139 beach nourishment projects in the southeast – 96% – have been implemented successfully without groins.
Judge Miller has indicated that she will issue her decision by August 26.